One citizen's take on the Dick that makes Chicago tick.


Monday, June 22, 2009


If you don't know who Mike Royko is, please leave this blog and never come back. I kid. Seriously though, please familiarize yourself:
But where Daley often drew on the worst side of ethnic Chicago--its tolerance of corruption, its parochialism and racial prejudice--Royko spoke to its better instincts. A neighborhood populist, he celebrated the corner tavern and the weekend softball game. But Royko also challenged white Chicago's prejudices, skewering bigots who tried to keep a white couple that had adopted a black baby out of their neighborhood or a funeral parlor that didn't want to bury a black soldier killed in Vietnam. In the column he wrote the day after Harold Washington became the first black person elected mayor of Chicago, Royko began with one of his inimitable openings, "So I told Uncle Chester: Don't worry, Harold Washington doesn't want to marry your sister."
You can think of Royko as the original John Kass, a constant thorn in the side of Mayor Richard J. Daley, the original Chicago Boss.

Check out this classic column by Royko. The more things change, the more they stay the same...or as Alderman Mathias "Paddy" Bauler said in 1955, "Chicago ain't ready for a reform mayor."

What's Behind Daley's Words? (February 16, 1973)
Several theories have arise as to what Mayor Daley really meant a few days ago when he said: "If they don't like it, they can kiss my ass."

On the surface, it appeared that the mayor was merely admonishing those who would dare question the royal favors he has bestowed upon his sons, Prince Curly, Prince Larry, and Prince Moe.

But it can be a mistake to accept the superficial meaning of anything the mayor says.

The mayor can be a subtle man. And as Earl Bush, his press secretary, once put it after the mayor was quoted correctly: "Don't print what he said. Print what he meant."

So many observers believe the true meaning of the mayor's remarkable kissing invitation may be more than skin deep.

One theory is that he would like to become sort of the Blarney Stone of Chicago.

As the stone legend goes, if a person kisses Ireland's famous Blarney Stone, which actually exists, he will be endowed with the gift of oratory.

And City Hall insiders have long known that the kind of kiss Daley suggested can result in the gift of wealth.

People from all over the world visit Blarney Castle so they can kiss the chunk of old limestone and thus become glib, convincing talkers.

So, too, might people flock to Chicago in hopes that kissing "The Daley" might bring them unearned wealth. Daley, or at least his bottom, might become one of the great tourist attractions of the nation.

The Blarney Stone has become part of the living language in such everyday phrases as "You're giving me a lot of blarney."

That could happen here too. People who make easy money might someday be described as "really having the gift of the Daley bottom."
And here is Royko's tribute to King Richard I:

If ever a man reflected a city, it was Richard J. Daley and Chicago.

In some ways, he was this town at its best -- strong, hard-driving, working feverishly, pushing, building, driven by ambitions so big they seemed Texas-boastful.

In other ways, he was this city at its worst -- arrogant, crude, conniving, ruthless, suspicious, intolerant.

He wasn't graceful, suave, witty or smooth. But, then, this is not Paris or San Francisco.

He was raucous, sentimental, hot-tempered, practical, simple, devious, big and powerful. This is, after all, Chicago.

Sometimes, the very same Daley performance could be seen as both outrageous and heroic. It depended on whom you asked for an opinion.

Don't feel too bad for Mayor Richard J. Daley. Royko was hard on the aldermen too:
I've always enjoyed Chicago's aldermen, and I believe that if they went away the city would be a much poorer place for their absence. Just how much poorer, I didn't know, because it would depend on how much you can stuff in a suitcase.

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